Customer relationship management (CRM) solutions have been around for years. From the early days of digital Rolodexes and databases back in the 80s and 90s to today’s software-as-a-service powerhouses, CRM technology has forever changed the way sales and customer service operate. But while many CRM solutions include marketing tools and functionality, none of them provide all of the tools that today’s marketer needs to support the sales and revenue goals of their business.
CRM solutions are great for organizing information and tracking sales, but they can’t provide the kind of end-to-end insight marketers require. Marketers also need complete visibility and control over the entire lead development process, from attracting new leads and facilitating the prospect’s online journey, to bottom-of-the-funnel sales enablement tactics such as product evaluation. That’s why integrating CRM and marketing automation is a key step to the success for any business, whether it’s a small agency or a large enterprise. Here are five benefits businesses can gain by integrating CRM with the right marketing automation solution.
1. Deliver more sales-ready leads
When you’ve got them working together seamlessly, marketing automation and CRM can help you make sure the leads that get delivered to your sales team are warmed up and ready to buy. A good marketing automation solution uses your CRM database to make it happen by sending out personalized, one-to-one communications – messages that are enriched and informed by the data collected through prospect and visitor tracking, and smart segmentation.
According to MarketingSherpa, 61% of B2B marketers send all leads directly to sales. But only 27% of those leads are actually qualified or ready to talk to sales. That’s a poor use of sales’ time. A B2B-ready marketing automation system can help you nurture leads beyond acquisition, through several stages of the funnel, to the very point where a conversation with sales is the next best step in the buyer’s journey.
2. Improve productivity by helping sales prioritize leads
A marketing automation system that integrates directly into a CRM provides a window into the online interactions that prospects have had with a company, such as their web visit and download history, emails sent, opened and clicked, webinar attendance, and so on. Marketing automation makes it possible to score leads based on specific activities, profiles, and special events, resulting in lead qualification based on proven factors – actual, genuine, sales-ready leads. For example, if you’ve done the historical research and you know that preferred customers’ buying journey usually includes a late-stage visit to your pricing page, then that page view should generate a high lead score (and perhaps a phone call).
Lead scoring helps the sales rep rank their contacts by interest level as well as actions. That helps them figure out who should they call first – and makes it possible to strike while the iron is hot. It also helps the sales rep get prepared before they reach out to that contact, so they can be ready to provide the information that circumstances indicate will be of the most value to them.
3. Speed up the process by shortening the sales cycle
According to an IDC study, over 50% of leads in the average B2B contact database are obsolete. Marketing automation can help move the live opportunities through the pipeline faster. A good automation platform lets marketers nurture leads already in the pipeline by using tactics like triggered email campaigns, content marketing, website visitor tracking, and coordinated social media outreach. They can also reactivate cold leads through retargeting email campaigns.
When it comes to sales-qualified leads, the integration between automation and CRM gives sales the ability to launch information to the prospect at the perfect time in order to keep the engagement going and growing, and decrease the time to sale. This works best when sales is involved in the development of these campaigns, particularly as they can assist marketing in identifying the proper content to be used at this stage of the buying cycle. Integration makes that kind of collaboration faster and more effective.
4. Track the value of every campaign by gaining visibility into performance
Working together, the marketing platform and CRM can help you track the results of your marketing campaigns from first touch to final sale. You can gain insight into conversions by seeing how many prospects responded to your call to action. And what’s really valuable is that you can track how much revenue was actually generated by each campaign. In order to optimize the results of your marketing and sales efforts, this kind of visibility is vital.
Without knowing what works and what doesn’t, it’s extremely difficult to continually improve your sales and marketing tactics. You might have an email campaign with astonishingly high open and click rates, but it might lead to just a few conversions and zero revenue. Without end-to-end insight, you might think that you had a highly successful campaign on your hands – instead of a dud.
5. Increase revenue and average deal size through lead nurturing
A nurtured buyer is better-educated – and more likely to buy more. Using marketing automation, marketers can provide content that directly addresses the issues they face at each point in the decision process. Whether it’s a series of white papers, product comparison breakdowns, ROI calculators, videos, and case studies, this content helps them gather the insights they need as they progress through the buying cycle. It makes them not only ready to buy … but ready to buy bigger.
According to a report from Forrester Research, companies that excel at lead nurturing generate 50% more sales-ready leads at 33% lower cost per lead. And an Annuitas study indicates that nurtured leads make 47% larger purchases than non-nurtured leads. Lead nurturing can create a leak-proof sales funnel by developing warmer relationships with prospects long before they’ve had any interaction with sales.
Collaboration is Key
Tight integration between marketing automation and CRM can also help marketing and sales work together to make smarter decisions about where to invest time and resources. After all, both the sales and marketing teams share the same goal: revenue. The combination of marketing automation and customer relationship management makes it possible for these teams to share critical information, support each other, and work together more effectively to improve results.
About the Author: Janelle Johnson is the Director of Demand Generation for Act-On Software. She is responsible for the success of multi-channel campaigns that address all aspects and stages of the customer lifecycle, including lead generation, lead nurturing, and customer satisfaction. Janelle was recognized as one of 20 Women to Watch in Sales Lead Management by the Sales Lead Management Association in 2013.